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Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Revolutions

Happy nearly New Year, y'all.

Hopefully, you realise tomorrow is just another day, and you don't need to make lifechanging decisions while drunk tonight that will transform into mid-January bouts of guilt as you fail.

You could stop smoking, lose weight or try to get a new job starting any particular day. Why do it alongside the rest of the herd? Is there camaraderie in failing en masse? I don't know.

What I do know is that I think New Year's Resolutions are about as pointless as those 'Caution: Hot!' warnings on takeaway coffees - they're really only needed for the truly remedial.

So I've decided to go with some New Year's Revolutions instead. Here are the revolutions I'd like to see in 2010:

1. A Chinese counter-revolution. Seriously, fuck the Chinese Communist Party. I'd love to see them overthrown and subjected to a quick round of real people power, the human-abusing thug junta. This same prescription also applies to the scum ruling Belarus, North Korea, Burma, Zimbabwe and a host of other thugocracies.

2. A drugs revolution. The war on drugs is lost. Why are our governments still fighting it? Increasingly, world leaders, health experts, religious minorities and influential commentators have come out in favour of a complete reversal of current failed policies.
I hope that either the lawmakers start listening, or else a proper grassroots movement comes along and makes ongoing prohibition unworkable for good. If the EU reverted to the Portuguese model, we might finally get a handle on drug crime and on harm reduction for addicts.

3. An economic revolution. The return of the gold standard? The end of fractional banking? Back to barter? Jail for banksters?
I'm no economist (and am suspicious of that pseudoscience in any case), so I will refrain from being prescriptive.
But since the current system just went pop for the umpteenth time, you'd like to think we might rebuild with some new method that doesn't unerringly result in a bubble and collapse every decade or two.

4. A democratic revolution in Ireland. Take a look at the Dail. Do those people really represent you? Do they look after your interests? Well, why keep voting for them?
I'd love to see an end to the cronyism, the parochial parish pump politics, the gombeens, the brown envelopes and the nepotism in Irish politics.
But that would require an electorate to grow up and take responsibility for those they elect.

What revolutions would you like to see next year? And are there any that you're prepared to man the barricades to bring about?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tis the season to be clairvoyant

It's that time of the year again, when most people defer cynical normality until the New Year, eschew common sense and start spouting goodwill to fellow men.

But not Skinner, no sirree bob.

For me, it's the season for casting a gloomy, pessimistic, jaundiced eye over the year to come, read the runes, scatter the entrails, gaze into the crystal ball and attempt to predict what the year ahead has to offer.

We'll hold fire on last year's predictions until this year is officially up. (Though nothing's stopping you checking now.) Instead, it's full steam ahead with what's ahead in 2010.

1. I can haz double-dip recession? Sort of inevitable at this stage, really. Credit card debt should do it for Ireland, which is tragically appropriate for what has happened to us as a nation in the mass delusion of the 'Celtic Tiger'.
In America, it will be the ongoing slide in dollar value, while Britain will simply run out of cash. China is hamstrung by its dollar exposure, lack of Western demand for plastic tat made in sweatshops and the fact that the rest of the world will be slow to forget how China stitched up Copenhagen for its own ends.
In short, more red lines on the charts, more capital flight to precious metals, more lost jobs, more housing price decline, more negative equity, more foreclosures, more unemployment and more excuses from those responsible.

2. What does Africa need right now? You were thinking 'major soccer tournament', weren't you? Isn't that top of their list of needs?
Africans agree, of course, which is why they're having two in six months. Never mind the HIV epidemic, the grinding poverty, the neverending wars, famines and disease. I must haz mi football. Right?
South Africa 2010 will see predictions of violence against the occasional drunk affluent visitor sadly fulfilled. Stadia will be full of white people flown in for the occasion. A European team, likely Spain or Italy, will win, though an African team, likely Nigeria, will get to the semis.

3. General election in the Republic of Ireland.
Seriously, this government wouldn't even have lasted this long were it not for the dire standard of political opposition in the Dail, and the utter disorganisation of political opposition outside of it.
Enda Kenny is as effective and reliable as the Billings method, while the beards running the unions have already shot their bolt and allowed their campaign to be cleverly cut in two by a government sneakily talking up public sector V private rivalries.
But to hold together an administration this flimsy, talentless and aimless would require both the cunning of a natural alliancemaker like Bertie Ahern and endless pots of overflowing gold to pay everyone off and keep them all happy.
Cowen has neither Ahern's touch nor any money whatsoever, since Ahern spent it all already. So it's inevitable that sooner rather than later the faeces will fly into the fan.

4. Result of election? Fine Gael and Labour, that unhappily married couple, back in the saddle again, this time minus the self-exploded Greens.
Stasis for the Shinners, though a few new faces in their line-up, including Joe McHugh. A move against Churry as leader of the party finally coalesces around someone other than the unelectable Mary Lou. Toireasa Ferris, perhaps?
Fianna Fail to regroup around a new leader - with Martin facing off against Dermot Ahern for the job and Martin winning. Most of the current cabinet retire to count their ill-gotten gains.

5. A general election is already scheduled for next year in Britain and the North, so they're already in mid-campaign.
The toff Tories to edge it in a surprisingly close-run thing after an initial rally of the British economy in the Spring. But they will claim no seats in the North, leaving their alliance with the UUP in tatters.
Lady Sylvia to win as independent in North Down, taking their last seat, leaving them behind the TUV, for whom Allister will ascend Paisley's old throne in North Antrim.
Alisdair McDonnell to become the next SDLP leader, and subsequently hold South Belfast. A resurgence for this party might then finally be possible, especially if a Shinner generation shift starts to coalesce.

6. Post-Lisbon, the EU will grow ever more important. Initially in Ireland this will either not be noticed or welcomed when spotted, since it will come alongside support for our comatose economy or will be warmly contrasted with our indigenous mismanagement of our political affairs.
But elsewhere, the twin-track Europe does begin to finally emerge. Eager to push on with the long march to federalism, the elites of Brussels will seek to seduce an inner circle to move faster. Welcome to the beginning of a Europe of the centre and the fringes again, just like the Roman Empire.

7. Poor ole spook kid Barack just won't catch an even break in 2010. With the messiah sheen of his election campaign long lost in most memories, Americans will get on with the fact of confronting growing poverty and unemployment, a reduction in international relevance alongside a growth in international danger, not only in current war spots but also in some new ones too.
I'd expect more Islamoterror next year, likely of the old Nineties format of attacks on foreign -based US troops. And that will of course stabilise Pakistan hugely.

8. China realises its dollars are worthless and we don't want their tat anymore, and there's only so much African resources and commodities you can stockpile for future good times, so it belatedly decides to spree its dollar mountain on Western assets.
This overt accumulation of Western trophies, akin to the Japanese intervention into California in the Eighties, will be the first sign for many of the Chinese century everyone was suspecting might come about.

9. Chelsea for the league, Barcelona for the Champions League, Rafa for Real and Mourinho for Anfield after an Arab buyout of the bankrupt Yanks.

10. Russia will play silly buggers with the gas pipeline to the West again as it tries and largely succeeds in splitting both Georgia and the Ukraine in two.
Everyone talks tough, but the Kremlin ain't listening. Once again, decadent old Europe realises too late that the Eastern threat to its stability has never gone away but merely morphed into yet another totalitarian guise, following the Tsarism and Sovietism of the past.

Should be a good year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sinn Fein Unionist Outreach Programme

Churry gets hands on and grapples Unionism at close quarters during a recent visit to Knutts Corner 'international' airport.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'm no scientist

But I know a good bit of science.

It's the universe's way of punishing me, I think, for all those semi-smug, semi-idiotic moments when I thought in school: I don't need to pay attention to this - I'm going to be an ARTIST.

Hey, we were all arseholes at 15, you know?

Anyway, I know a good bit of science. I don't know when I last read fiction, or even fact that wasn't science-related. I do it for work, I do it for fun too. Right now I'm reading one book about zero-fields and another about medicine, for example. They're the books by my bed.

I've come to realise that this stuff, inexpertly presented to the public, is actually all that we can be assured of in relation to our existence on this planet. Everything else, and I mean everything else, is supposition at best.

That includes art, soul, music, passion, emotions - all the good stuff, in a way. But while those things continue not to be measurable, they continue to be perplexing.

We can be sure about light in a way that we can't about love, for example. But that won't stop most people anguishing about love at some point in their lives, of course, and nor is it any succour to be aware of the fact that you can in recompense understand what photons do, even as your better half pursues pastures new.

So science is no succour, but it's all we've got. And surprisingly, we have more than most people think.

One question is how did the general public become so divorced from the currency of scientific thought to the point today where almost nobody now knows, for example, that we do not see, but imagine, since our optic nerve conveys light information received on the eyeball as information which it sends to the brain where it is recreated?

Is it the media's fault? When Einstein came up with E=MC2 it was quickly popularised, yet today it's still the best known theorem. What happened to the media so that it dumbed down below science?

Or did science become so difficult that it transcended simple translation into concepts that the public can understand? In the West at least, we have a better-educated general public than ever in history. So why the assumption that they can't understand science?

Is it because of the fact that they generally don't, even on the rare occasions in which it is presented to them?

For example, a great nuclear reactor in the sky showers us from close range with radiation, light, heat, solar energy and a number of other things too. It is many, many times larger than this planet, and it provides all of our energy sources. We call it the Sun.

Yet the vast majority of people genuinely believe that burning fossil fuels is the main cause of change in our planet's weather system, even though we have plenty of evidence that the planet has experienced big weather changes in the past.

But even scientists are buying into that one (literally, in many cases, since their research funding so commonly requires them to posit a 'global warming' or 'climate change' thesis to gain grant aid.)

So what about something self-evident, like evolution?

How come a huge proportion of people in the richest country on Earth are able to coherently believe that evolution is wrong and that an imaginary daddy in the sky planted evidence of a vast pre-human history on the planet in order to test the limits of our imagination, or faith, since the two terms are effectively interchangeable?

In short, how come Americans with all their resources, freedom and affluence, believe in 'intelligent design' (itself one of the least appropriate monikers for an idea ever, since there is nothing 'intelligent' about the ideology)?

I wish more people knew more science. That's about the only thing I agree with the government about, actually.

Science has taught me how to tell truth from lies. For example, we have the Greens in government pushing through a 'carbon tax' on carbon-based fuels in this week's budget.

On the surface, to the unscientific layman, this seems like a painful but legitimate response to combating climate change. But even let us assume that climate change is indeed being caused by us burning carbon fuels, science still tells me that this move is nonsense. Why?

Because firstly, there is no alternative. We don't have wind or solar energy feeding the grid yet. We don't have alternatives for driving our cars or heating our homes. Therefore, science tells me that this cannot stop people using fossil fuels. It will only charge them more for them. Therefore, it's a government revenue raiser.

But science also tells me that whether climate change is caused by burning fossil fuels or not, oil is definitely running out. It's a finite resource, and while we may still find quite a bit more, we really have to quickly learn how to use it a lot more sensibly, because we're definitely running out.

And while penalising people for utilising a finite resource could be a disincentive, that can only work when they can avoid the punishment by switching to alternatives.

So a carbon tax is the worst of all worlds - a punitive law designed to raise revenue with no positive benefit to society. It's today's version of the window tax introduced by an English king in the Middle Ages.

If more people knew more science, there'd be a lot more anger about that budget, I reckon. When people cease staring into their wallets and lamenting, they could usefully look at the small print hidden in the budget and see just how bankrupt of ideas this government has become.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How to ruin places with architecture

I'm fed up of architects ruining perfectly good places with their architecture.

Let's try not to think, for the moment, about the Sixties monstrosities that were erected on the ruins of beautiful old Georgian and Victorian buildings across the cities of Ireland and Britain.

The Sixties really have quite a lot to answer for in retrospect. For more on this argument, feel free to track down BBC 4's splendid documentary on why the Sixties were actually total shit.

No, I'm more animated about contemporary architecture, which despite knowing almost nothing about it I tend to quite like, largely because it so often is used to replace dreadful concrete Stalin-baroque Sixties architecture which I loathe.

However, plonking some cleverly shaped, interestingly lit building on the site of a half-derelict tower block or concrete wall of council flats is one thing.

But erecting preposterous constructions in scenic environments where they totally destroy all of the existing ambience is another entirely.

Examples? It's probably easier to say what's good than what isn't sometimes. The London Gherkin is good - eye-catching yet functional and fits into its environment (the financial city) while still being quirky enough to attract attention.

What else is good? Much of the Dublin docklands, actually. Wandering around that end of town a decade ago was to take your life in your hands.

And when the Flugeltent is in operation, or in the middle of Octoberfest, it probably still is a bit hairy down there.

But few could claim with a straight face that the buildings of the docklands and IFSC area haven't improved immensely what was a rundown and decrepit area.

And what's shit? There's a lot of shit actually. Most of the ghost estates and apartment blocks are empty for more than the simple reason that they were built in the middle of nowhere in a ponzi boom. They're also empty because they look shit and no one sane would want to live in buildings looking like that.

Of course architects will smugly claim that those estates and blocks were actually designed without reference to their stellar professional abilities, and were lashed together by builders with no sense of design.

And they'd be right. But in response, I generally just show them this picture of a winery built by superstar architect Frank Gehry in Spain, and then they go very quiet indeed.

Here is how to ruin places with architecture:

Fucking horrible thing to do to a beautiful landscape, isn't it?

Architects - they've a lot of crimes to answer for, you know.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cold, skint and depressed

I haven't blogged with particular regularity recently. This is because, as the title states, I'm cold, skint and depressed.

Like most of the country, basically.

Well, like those who aren't actually bankrupt or in hundreds of thousands of negative equity they now owe to the bailed-out banksters.

Or like those who aren't actually flooded out of the homes some gombeen developer built on flood plains with dodgy planning and possibly a brown envelope or two.

Or like those who can't get their operation or healthcare because our minister for Obesity keeps hiking the cost of a prescription or attending A+E.

Equally, I'm not so smug, comfortable, with my African dictator-sized Merc and Garda chauffeur, with my dodgy finances and my millionaire daughters to comfort me, that I'm in a position to advise those complaining about the state of the nation to fuck off and grow bluebells, like Bertie Ahern did.

I'm cold, skint and depressed, and I'm still better off than most. That's how bad this place has become. And it will get worse as Clowen and his cohorts seek to mug us all again in the budget.

Come the Spring, I might well grow some bluebells, in order to bring some much needed colour back into the place.

And then I'm going to Drumcondra to look for a former politician's arse I can ram them up, to stop the corrupt little fucker from speaking out of that particular orifice any further.

Seriously, why isn't he in jail yet?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Evra is a tosser

Sorry for the third football related post in a row, but I could not let things pass without noting for posterity that Patrice Evra (seen on the right, breathing heavily while sexually abusing a reluctant Wayne Rooney) is a multiple tosser.

Firstly, he has a girl's name. Secondly, he plays for Merchandise United. But primarily, he's a tosser for his response to the Thierry Henry debacle.

Yes, he said that they should erect a statue to his cheating pal. Yes, he also cheekily offered a replay on his playstation. But those moronisms are not why Patrice Evra is tosser of the week.

Here is his response to the fact that politicians joined the calls for a fair play replay: "When you hear politicians calling for a replay, you wonder if they know the ball is round or oval."

Erm, like your handballing mate Thierry Henry last Wednesday night, do you mean, Patrice?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why the internet doesn't matter

I've discovered a new mathematical formula today. It expresses the relevance of the internet, and I have calculated it to be 0.1%.

How did I do this? Quite simply. I took the 300,000 people who said on Facebook that they would march to the French Embassy to protest against the thieving of our World Cup place and divided that number by the 300 or so who actually turned up.

This little illustration firstly confirms the old gag that internet petitions aren't worth the paper they're written on. But it also reveals the extent to which posturing has replaced action in the repertoire of modern man.

Perhaps we are much more cowed, more frightened, more afraid to rock the boat than previous generations. Perhaps we are more lazy, more indoors, more sedentary too.

But primarily I think we're more inclined to spoof and bluster and posture than previous generations, and few things fulfil that remit better than the 'look at me' amateurism of the internet, especially (yes, I know) blogs and social networking sites.

We already know that such things aren't work. They aren't proper communication either. And if they're what passes for fun in the 21st century, I'd like to be put on the first bus back to the 20th, please.

So what are they? A billion electronic clamours for attention? Hard to say. One thing is increasingly sure though. The internet doesn't matter, and what you read there is almost definitely bullshit, unless it was nicked from some more trustworthy offline source.

How bullshit? Well, on the basis of my calculations at the French Embassy today, somewhere around 99.9% bullshit (unless I somehow missed a quarter of a million people in my count.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The French are cheats

Did anyone doubt that the French would cheat their way to the World Cup finals?

Well, consider your naivety shattered tonight.

The inevitable happened - Ireland won the game and were cheated out of the World Cup final by a combination of Thierry Henry's legendary lack of sportsmanship and FIFA and UEFA's desperate desire to rig the finals to ensure that the French (and their large TV audience) attend the World Cup.

Thierry Henry, as anyone who watched the diving petulant scumbag in the premiership will know, is an awful inveterate cheating arsebag who'd throw his granny in front of a train to rob an undeserved goal.

And he did exactly that tonight with his double handball which ought to have warranted a red card for such blatant gamesmanship.

But this vista could never had arisen were it not for the inate corruption within FIFA and UEFA, who rigged the draw AFTER the qualifiers were over in the hope of sparing France and Portugal proper tests in the qualifiers.

Not only did they insist on a seeded draw, they also rigged it to ensure that recent results (bear in mind Ireland went through their campaign unbeaten) were not included.

Then the nightmare occurred and la belle France got drawn against the Irish - nice team, everyone likes the country but only 3 million TV viewers, so fuck them.

Of course, France had to win. And after a dodgy deflection in Croke Park that seemed like an odds-on affair. Then Ireland arrived in Paris and destroyed the French. The referee was clearly desperate by midway through the second half to throw the French a lifeline of any sort.

You just knew that the first opportunity to give a free kick or penalty to the French would be gratefully granted by the ref on behalf of his FIFA and UEFA paymasters, who were so desperate to see a French victory.

In the end, some classic Thierry Henry cheating had to make do. It was the best a moribund and poor French team could offer, having been totally mastered by the Irish.

In short, we have been robbed of a World Cup final place, and the FAI, have they any balls which they do not, would be taking this to the European Court of Sports Arbitration.

The French have no place in South Africa and ought to be ashamed of claiming a role in that tournament, having blatantly cheated to get there.

Remember that. The French are cheats. Fuck them. Stop buying their products. Ignore their poncy perfumes and BS fashion. Shove their smelly cheeses up the place their aroma recalls. Drink Spanish and Italian wines instead (or Aussie or Yank - they're all as good and not as expensive.)

If you're a proud Irish person, don't let the French forget they had to steal our World Cup place by cheating. Take every opportunity in the next eight months to remind each and every French person you meet that they should feel ashamed of their nation.

Despite losing every war they fought for the past eight hundred years or so, the French remain bizarrely impervious to shame.

After tonight, it's time to introduce them to that concept. Because they should feel utterly ashamed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Big Bollix

I was in the queue at Ben Gurion airport when the Israeli security forces finally caught up with me. Probably, I should have listened to that little voice telling me to exit via the West Bank and Jordan, but I simply didn't have the cash to hand to do it.

So I risked exiting as I came, and they pulled me aside.

First, I was taken to a side room and strip-searched. Then they went to remove my bag. I protested, as images flashed before my eyes of getting fitted up for heroin smuggling or the like. Eventually, unable to remove my hands from the bag, they agreed to let me dress and search it in front of me.

They took everything out and found nothing to be suspicious about. But that only heightened their suspicions.

They swabbed every single item in my bag and tested the swabs for explosives residue. I felt like telling them that the closest I had come to armaments was their Uzis in my face, and the shots pinged at me in Beit Jala from the nearest Jewish settlement, but stifled my tongue. In the end, reluctantly, they decided to let me board my plane.

As they escorted me past the security desk, past my co-passengers (thus arousing their concerns - none would sit next to me on the flight), I decided to match their spite with my own. Rather than go to the gate meekly, I insisted on going to the loo and shopping in duty free.

I was frogmarched to the front of the queue in both by my security detail.

My last memory of Israel was a tourism poster of Tel Aviv on the airport wall as I finally boarded my plane. 'Come to Tel Aviv - The Big Orange!'

How pathetically tragic, I thought. But not so unlikely in a town so suffused with transplanted New York Jews. Here they were, missing the point about how their apartheid city was utterly unlike the magnetic multiculture of NYC.

How sad to be concocting such a transparently derivative nickname for a town once known by its Palestinian name - Jaffa.

As I drifted off to sleep on the plane, across two other seats vacated by my co-passengers (both Hassidic Jews), I thought that no other city would be so idiotic, so basely dumb as to seek to piggyback on the organically derived NYC nickname.

Surely, I felt, only a town with such obvious negatives for tourists (merely a century of history, little culture, the ground zero of Jewish nationalism in an apartheid state at perpetual war with its neighbours) could feel the need for such transparently borrowed plumage.

And I was right, until this weekend I came across tourism references to Bangkok as 'The Big Mango.'

That's even more pathetic than the Big Orange (which at least has the Jaffa orange heritage to recommend it.)

The Big Mango? Like mangoes don't grow anywhere else, or as if they originated in Thailand? Does a city of immense culture and 13 million people really need to promote itself thus?

I mean, what's their competition? They've got the Western market nailed on for South-East Asia. Burma is a dictatorship, Cambodia suffered a massive genocide in living memory and Laos is as close as you can get to the 13th century outside of Central Africa.

But if this is going to catch on, perhaps we should get in on the ground floor. Galway could be the Big Rainy. Cork, the Big Langer. I'm open to suggestions for Dublin. So are Failte Ireland, most likely.

Please offer your best suggestions ASAP before they start promoting the Big Bollix in America next Spring.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Stephen Gately RIP, but let's not pretend he was Gandhi

Stephen Gately was a moderately talented singer and disco dancer.

He was not Gandhi, or Martin Luther King, or Jesus Christ.

The cult of celebrity that led to firstly the virtually state funeral he had yester with thousands outside the church and secondly the wall-to-wall coverage of his death is to me sadly symptomatic of a society in thrall to fame.

Let's not forget, another man was buried yesterday - a man who was a talented athlete, who volunteered at his local scout troop, who was immensely talented at his job, training our air corps pilots and who tragically died last Monday.

Yet on RTE's 1pm news, we got 15 minutes of the Gately funeral and 15 seconds of Derek Furniss's funeral. Something's wrong with our priorities.

Gately died of a pulmonary oedema resulting from heart failure that appears to be genetically related. The lad was fit and healthy and drank little and smoked little. Some of the papers are carrying the toxicology reports, and they reveal only cannabis and some prescription medications in his system, none of which could possibly have caused his death.

He was involved in a relationship with his partner which is the homosexual equivalent of marriage - a civil union. However, despite this, he and his partner went to a gay nightclub on holiday and picked up a Bulgarian student, brought him home and took turns having sex with him.

The Daily Mail's Jan Moir was hauled over the coals for homophobia when she suggested that there was something 'unnatural' about Gately's death. There was nothing unnatural about his death except the tragically young age at which he died.

But on one point she was correct - the sort of sexual scenario Gately was engaged in at the time of his death - effectively sharing a nightclub pick up with his partner - does not advance the cause of gay marriage one iota.

Finally, Gerald Kean is representing the Gately family here. No one else. Hence there have been arguments with Louis Walsh among others over how information emerged and other matters.

Keane is speaking for the family when he contradicts the version of events presented by the Bulgarian. It is in their interests to see the public reputation of their deceased relative preserved to the utmost.

On the other hand, the Bulgarian may stand to make money by selling a sordid tale to the tabloids.

The truth may be discerned however by the fact that Gately's partner has not offered a version of events which contradicts the Bulgarian's version, and that the Spanish police are also happy that the Bulgarian's testimony is correct.

To conclude: it's sad he died so young, but he didn't die of sex, drugs or suicide, and he wasn't Gandhi, so let's all move on and not make this into our Princess Diana national cringefest, please.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cliftonville FC 3 Glasgow Celtic 0

No, that's not a typo. It really happened.

North Belfast part-timers Cliftonville wallopped mighty Glasgow Celtic 3-0 last night and it could actually have been easily 6.

Few things on Earth are likely to unite the loyalist denizens of Ibrox and the Irish republicans of Ardoyne. But this astonishing victory by Ireland's oldest club over the famous Glasgow Celtic just might.

Fair enough, it wasn't quite Celtic's first XI. But there were numerous players on display for the Scots whose individual alleged values far exceeds that of Cliftonville's entire team, and Solitude stadium too.

My suggestion? Celtic should ditch the lot of them, because they were terrible, and buy Cliftonville's entire squad instead.

Incidentally, Cliftonville made about six substitutions, including their keeper, and Celtic still couldn't score.

It's fair to say that by the end of the game, when Cliftonville were utterly embarrassing their guests by playing Barcelona-style one-touch possession passing around them, it was actually Cliftonville's reserves outplaying Celtic's second string.

It's a far cry from the last time Celtic came to Solitude, when the friendly was interrupted by the RUC who decided for no good reason to shoot plastic bullets into the crowd in an appalling sectarian attack by the security forces, and thankfully so.

How times have changed in the intervening quarter century. Solitude has a gleaming new stand, the team hammered their prestigious guests and no one was hospitalised by police brutality.

For those who missed out on a night when Ireland's oldest club (don't listen to the LIES of Bohemians) made yet more history, here's some highlights:

And some more!

Monday, October 12, 2009

The tricky task of finding a Ceann Comhairle

The Irish parliament needs a speaker, after the last one was caught swanning around the planet like Marie-Antoinette at the taxpayers' expense.

This is a problem for Fianna Fail, because while the ideal would be for a member of an opposition party to take the chair (thus boosting the government's slender majority), it's unlikely that anyone from Labour or Sinn Fein can be bought off, and Fine Gael will have those who might be tempted on a tight leash in the hope of forcing an election or change of government.

Hence we're seeing some strange names popping up. The latest is Trevor 'I won't lead the Greens into Government with Fianna Fail' Sargent. On the one hand, that would ensure at least one Green in the next Dail, as literally all of their seats are now under real threat.

From a Fianna Fail perspective, it makes holding what they have in Dublin North very difficult. For them to win two seats, as they currently have, next time out would be a huge ask in the current climate.

But given the utter anonymity of their two deputies there, and the vast backlash against Fianna Fail, putting Sargent into the chair would leave them trying to defend two seats out of three when they could well be pushed to get one.

This is why I suspect Biffo will reverse one of the most egregious casualties of his Culchie Coup and elevate Tom Kitt, former Fianna Fail chief whip, to the post.

Kitt was always a good operator, knows the procedural elements of parliament backwards (unlike John O'Donoghue) and is civil and respected by the other parties (again unlike John O'Donoghue.)

But more importantly, he's threatened to step down from his seat in Dublin South, the constituency where former minister Seamus Brennan died and Fianna Fail were unable to defend the seat in a by-election that took a full year to be held.

Currently, that would leave Fianna Fail in the desperate position of having no one except Shay Brennan (Seamus' son) who was wallopped into a distant third place when he was parachuted into the aforementioned by-election, to run in the hope of regaining two seats.

But if Kitt retained his seat as Ceann Comhairle, a totally different picture emerges. Suddenly Fine Gael are in the position of trying to defend three seats in a four seater - impossible, frankly. And Fianna Fail retain the reins of the parliamentary chair for some time to come.

Fianna Fail are already in major damage limitation mode. They can smell the election coming. They saw at the weekend how close the rump Greens are to walking out of government. They've had to issue a stern warning just to whip the Greens into line on the forthcoming budget. In short, they know the gig is soon to be up.

So already, they're plotting for a life after government. A term in opposition, with a favourable Ceann Comhairle, and the opportunity to take at least one Fine Gael scalp during the forthcoming meltdown, would seem to be their best option.

If Kitt's not dead set on retirement (and I suspect he only promised to quit because of how he was ousted from cabinet by Cowen when he had reason to expect promotion), then I imagine he will be placed in the post.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Let's ditch England

As I wandered around the sunny squares of Glasgow today, I couldn't help but recall that once upon a time Belfast sort of looked like this, before it all got blown up.

As I wandered the redbrick Victorian squares and terraces, I remembered that Belfast has much in common with this town, just as Dublin and Edinburgh architecturally are so reminiscent of each other.

Outside the Buchanan galleries, laden with bottles of whisky, I overheard a lost Japanese tourist ask two smoking old dears how to get to the Holiday Inn.

'Sure we wouldn't know,' they told him apologetically. 'We're not from this part of the world at all.'

After I pointed the Japanese lad in the right direction, I corrected the two old ladies.

'You're from Ards or Bangor, I'm guessing' I said to their astonishment. 'To my mind, that's definitely this part of the world.'

Sure enough, they were indeed from North Down. Their accents - effectively lowland Scots with an Irish lilt - gave that away. It's one I'm fairly familiar with.

And that got me thinking about the sphere of influence that goes back all the way through the medieval kingdom of Dalriada to the Red Branch cycle of mythology and Cuchullain's time with Scatha the Witch on Skye.

The same sphere of influence that the descendants of the Scottish planters of the Hamilton-Montgomery plantation of 1609 now wish to parlay into a quasi-nationhood - the so-called Ulster-Scots.

But the links go further and deeper than the ongoing and divisive effects of that particular plantation. The Scotii were in origin Irish themselves.

A deep shared culture, encompassing forms of the Gaelic languages, whisk(e)y distillation, croft farming, and continual cross-pollenisation of people and culture has created a bond between the two nations that is perennially sublimated by the fact that both remain culturally and politically dominated by England.

Just as the riches of Ireland - its great forests, its manpower, its food - were denuded for English benefit, so have the Scots suffered greatly through that unbalanced power relationship with their southern neighbour.

The highland clearances are no less a holocaust than the repeated attempts at Irish genocide concocted in London in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. And the daylight robbery of their massive North Sea oil reserves parallels the lengthy theft of Irish resources for English gain during the past umpteen centuries.

It's self-evident to all but the Tory rump of the UUP that partitioning Ireland hasn't worked and never will. Even the self-denying Ulster nationalists within the DUP are coming to a slow realisation that their economic future and well-being is utterly and inextricably tied up with that of the rest of the island.

The question remains how to square the circle - how to encompass the stern and implacable opposition to the perceived 'Rome rule' of a unified Ireland that unionists espouse with the undeniable reality of their Irishness?

Perhaps the answer is a union of a different sort. Scots and Irish, Ulsterman and Highlander, Aberdonian and Corkonian can all agree on one simple fact - England never did you a single favour, but used you to their own benefit.

Maybe the answer is to ditch the English. Would the unionists accept a different type of union - one with our historical brother Scotland rather than the isle of Britain as a whole?

Those who espouse Irish unification always point to the fact that unionists would be kingmakers in Dail Eireann - driving coalitions from the minority position as the PDs did for the past decade.

But this is not sufficient for our unionist brethren.

So why not ditch the English?

We could have a union of over 11 million people, with stunning natural resources, and benefit from the boosted economy of scales that would provide. A true Celtic homeland, one made up of Protestant, Catholic and dissenter in even enough numbers to threaten no one.

The poor lost hybrid souls of Ulster would have both their parents back together, married for the first time without a third abusive and dominant partner involved in the relationship.

The Scots of Irish descent could finally feel truly at home in their homeland, no longer sickened by football thugs telling them to 'go home, the famine's over.'

The Scots do not benefit from their association with England under the British banner. They never did. Many, likely a majority, would support independence from London and the English yoke.

The English will always be with us. We are both, Scotland and Ireland, firmly within London's sphere of influence. But England's greatest fear has always been a coherent and strong rival culture located on its Celtic fringe.

Why not have a new unionism - a marriage of Scotland and Ireland - and find out just what it was that has been frightening England down through the many centuries?

We asked the Japanese tourist what he thought.

'If you say you are from Ireland, then you are Irish,' he answered slowly. 'But you sound like the Scots do to me. You look like them too.'

Even outsiders see the family resemblance, it seems.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

20% swing in Lisbon vote

So now we have a figure on what proportion of the Irish electorate are easily scaremongered. I suppose the 17 million euro we spent on Lisbon II was worth it to at least find that out.

I hope everyone who made the mistake of voting 'yes to jobs' and 'yes to recovery' noted that not one of the grinning politicians mentioned jobs or recovery in their self-aggrandising speeches today.

That's because Lisbon won't be leading to any jobs or recovery, obviously. The Irish Times business section (about the only bit of the paper worth reading) published a very astute article recently detailing seven reasons why we'll still be bolloxed when the rest of the world is booming again.

The really scarey bit? They didn't even refer to the NAMA black hole that Fianna Fail are cooking up for you and your children to pay for.

Declan Ganley promised to return to the RDS next October with some 'Yes for Jobs' posters and see if the jobs had materialised. He may or may not turn up next October, but you can be sure the jobs definitely won't have.

Another potential plus of this referendum is the Donegal vote. That surely has to undermine Sweary Mary Coughlan. Biffo's government is already on life support, and will face a torrid two days explaining itself over Rody Molloy's golden handshake in the Dail next week.

And then on Saturday, the hobbits will gather to decide what magic beans they'd like to get from Fianna Fail in order to stay in government. And the NAMA banker bailout is yet to come.

So there are a number of potential banana skins there for Biffo. The last thing he needs right now is someone lobbing more of them onto the path in front of him.

He should heed the words of the 'most cunning, most devious of them all', Bertie Ahern, who pinpointed Sweary Mary as a wrong un in his autobiography. He made a mistake in appointing her as Tanaiste, but clearly couldn't resist the culchie coup.

Well, here's his chance to ditch some of the dead weight. Even the meeja think it's time she went. She failed to carry her own county in the referendum. That's a reason the grass roots gombeens will accept for dumping her. It diverts attention from the mistake he made in appointing her in the first place.

On a personal note, I'm inclined to agree with Pearse Doherty (probably a first) in paying tribute to the people of Donegal who were not bullied into doing what the Euro elite wanted.

The rest of the country may have voted to be serfs, but they did not. Fair play, Donegal. Stand tall tonight.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The most dishonest political campaign ever

That's what Lisbon II has been.

It's as if every single campaigner on both sides of the debate have been possessed by demons making them lie. In the case of the professional politicians, that's business as usual. In the case of Mick 'low fares plus huge charges' O'Leary, it's to be expected.

But when Intel and fundamentalist Christians start in on the spoofing act, one really does begin to despair.

The blatant attempts by the supposedly impartial EU to buy the election have been as despicable as the attempts by foreign Eurosceptics like Bonde or the UKIP to swing the decision to what suits them.

No one comes out of this with any credit. Not the liars who have attempted to link a yes vote with economic recovery. Not the liars who said a yes vote would lead to a shredding of the minimum wage.

The bottom line remains: you're voting on the treaty itself and nothing else. Not on the 'guarantees' which don't actually exist. Not on the minimum wage, or abortion, or a federal Europe, or economic recovery, or the current government, or NAMA, or anything else. Just the treaty.

My advice? Read the treaty. Not the summaries offered by vested interests, but the treaty itself.

I did. It's almost impenetrable. It took me about four days to finish it. At the end I was extremely concerned at how much of the treaty eroded our say over our own country and how many things were open to wide interpretation.

They say that if you don't understand a contract, you shouldn't sign it. Equally, if you don't know what to make of an issue, you should probably vote against it.

For those reasons, and not for any of the dishonest, disingenuous reasons offered by both the Yes and the No campaigns, I will be voting No on Friday.

I suggest that unless you've read, understood and approve of the treaty, you should do likewise.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Plan B

Biffo says there is no other option than NAMA. He says there is no Plan B.

Apart from the fact that Fine Gael have proposed a good bank/bad bank option and Labour have proposed temporary nationalisation of the banks, Biffo is still wrong.

While the Opposition proposals are improvements on the blatant bailout of Biffo's plan, there is a third option. It's called capitalism. Not crony capitalism like Fianna Fail understand. Proper capitalism.

Allow me to summarise: LET. THE. BANKRUPT. BASTARDS. GO. TO. THE. WALL.

But Biffo says we need to bail out these banks so that they can get lending to the rest of us and improve the economy so that we can stop borrowing a billion every fortnight and we won't have to call in the IMF.

Biffo couldn't be thicker if he was a bottle of pigshit.

Here's how to save the country's finances, Biffo. Here's Plan B:
  • Let the zombie banks and the developers go to the wall. 77 billion saved right there. Then start prosecuting the bankers. Take them through the courts, using CAB if necessary. Probably a couple of billion minimum right there.
  • After that, there's halving the salaries of TDs, closing the Seanad and making all representatives provide receipts for expenses, and capping the total at 10K per person per annum. Hundreds of millions saved.
  • Make ministers drive their own cars and fly with their new bessie mate Mick O'Leary, and sell the Mercs and jets.
  • Increase corporation tax by 2%. Not enough to drive FDI away, but enough to bring in an absolute ton of revenue.
  • Cut the dole to no more than 25% higher than Britain's. That'll stop the vast amount of welfare tourism into Ireland, and will incentivise the unemployed to seek other options. Ideally, I'd timecap it to six months too, but in current circumstances it's unreasonable to expect people to find work in that period. But I'd timecap it as soon as we get unemployment back under 300,000. Billions saved there. Literally billions.
  • Scrap the asylum system entirely, including the appeal system, and implement a pro-active approach involving identifying a capped number of those worthy of asylum and patriating them here ourselves. Deport everyone who has lost their case without appeal. Stop anymore coming in at the airport. Insist on Romanians and Bulgarians demonstrating an ability to support themselves here for three months or refuse them entry. Hundreds of millions annually saved on legal fees alone. Hundreds of millions more saved on processing bogus claims from the likes of Nigerians, over 95% of whom were found NOT to have a case on first application. And probably at least a billion saved in free legal aid, medical care, welfare benefits and so on.
  • Introduce a third rate of tax on earnings over 100K per year of 60%. Introduce the American system of demanding tax returns from ex-pats on pain of loss of citizenship.
  • Cap public sector wages at 150K per annum per person across the board from Brendan Drumm down. Introduce legislation to end their generous pension entitlements.
  • Cancel all property-related tax incentives immediately, and the same for stud farms and all the other rich men's tax shelters.
  • Legalise cannabis, licence it for sale and tax the hole out of it. Hundreds of millions in revenue right there.
  • Introduce a property tax based on square footage of property owned, on an exponential scale, with exemptions for primary family homes under 100 sq m. Own half of Wicklow? Time to pay up, sell up, or open up your stately home to the nation.
  • Prosecute Ahern. Not a lot of cash in this, but it is essential to demonstrate to the world that we're drawing a line under our corrupt and shady past.
I'm not saying this will reverse our currently catastrophic economic situation overnight. It won't.

But it is such a clear and vast improvement on the Government's plan A - to give tens of billions to corrupt bankers and their bankrupt specuvestor clientele - that you'd have to question who the Government actually represent.

Because it's definitely not the Irish taxpayer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The NAMA Republic

At a time with approaching half a million on the dole, 25% of mortgage holders in negative equity, the government borrowing nearly a billion every two weeks to stay afloat, and all public sector and PAYE workers facing the third round of cuts in their wages, what does this corrupt and shameless government do?

They bail out their developer pals to the tune of tens of billions we don't have.

Congratulations. If you are an Irish taxpayer, you have just been heisted to the tune of around 35,000 euro. And that will go to bail out Liam Carroll, Sean Dunne and their odious ilk, who gambled and lost on a punt that the property prices they inflated would keep ballooning forever.

They've done this by propping up the corrupt bankers who gave them the preposterous sums in the first place. No room for capitalism here - no chance of watching these banks and their shoddy speculator customers go to the wall.

No, when it's the elites involved, it's time to bail them out with YOUR money.

Don't buy for a minute the nonsense that they need to keep these banks afloat. They do not. There are other, cleaner, banks in this country already. I bank with one, and I urge you to do likewise.

See this for what it is - corporate welfare for the guys in Fianna Fail's Galway tent. The guys who charged you half a million for a thrown together house in the middle of nowhere two years ago. The guys who handed over brown envelopes to the likes of Liam Lawler to get the fields they were built on rezoned.

Do you want to give 35 grand to those people? Do you want to keep on supporting the likes of Rody Molloy's pension, or John O'Donoghue's half a grand taxi jaunts across Heathrow airport, or the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick's holiday home in Marbella?

Do you?

If you do, sit on your hands and say nothing. Do nothing. They'll rob your money with impugnity and laugh at your foolishness.

But if you object to this, the greatest theft in Irish history since the Brits invaded and took the entire island, then you need to take action now.

Sorry about that. You will need to turn off 'Fair City' and actually DO SOMETHING.

Go on the NO TO NAMA march this Saturday if you can in Dublin. Better still, get in your TD's face. You know the fellow - jowly red face from too many free lunches at your expense. Go to his clinic, call his office, and roar down the phone at the prick for voting in favour of your being robbed.

Remember what they want from you. Your compliance. Your fear. Your resignation. Fuck that. Demand their resignation instead.

You could start by voting down the anti-democratic Lisbon Treaty. They badly need you to pass that. It's a great start. Then when they're hurting, demand a general election. And keep demanding until the scum are out of government. On the hustings, ask for written assurances from every candidate that they will back legislation to reverse NAMA, no matter what.

Don't take mealy-mouthed BS like 'We had to', 'systemic importance', 'going forward', or any of that oul blather. Get an assurance in writing that they will reverse NAMA or else resign yourself to writing them a big fat cheque for 35 grand.

Or watch this and learn what they're doing to you and your country:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

You Can't Trust Them

Coir are an annoying shower of kerazzee godbotherers.

But they're right about the Lisbon Treaty being a shoddy deal for us and for the peoples of Europe.

But the best reason for voting against Lisbon again (apart from the fact that they arrogantly dismissed the sovereign voice of the Irish people last time) has got to be this: you can't trust the people who want you to sign up to it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Boycott fashion

Amid the acres of newsprint of what's hot to wear comes at last a fashion story that people should actually read.

The advertising posing as journalism which makes up most fashion articles leaves me, as a man, cold. My mammy doesn't get to tell me what to wear, and I don't let anyone else do so either.

I've got a basic sense of appropriate dress (no pyjamas in public, no footie shirts at posh dinners, no tuxedos down the pub) and that does for me.

But it is a multi-billion euro industry, and the evil embodied within it goes a lot further than scamming women out of cash for overpriced clothing made in Chinese sweatshops.

We already knew about the models forced to starve themselves in order to get work, and the feminists (who are ever concerned for White Western Woman) have of course declared fat to be a feminist issue.

But fewer people are perhaps aware that the catwalk industry, which feeds on stick-thin post-pubescent girls, luring them in with the promise of travel and fame, is driven by sexual abuse and rape.

The casting couch is hardly new, but the scale of abuse suffered by models and wannabes is truly shocking.

Hadley Freeman in the Guardian rightly points out the hypocrisy of a media and society which witters endlessly for a week about a model's teeny roll of fat and entirely ignores the conviction of a leading fashion photographer on dozens of charges of sexually assaulting underage models.

Leading psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler once identified the core problem at the heart of the fashion industry: it is dominated, he says, by gay men who subconsciously hate women and therefore set impossible standards for women to aspire to that coincidentally also mimic the bodyshape of young boys.

What's really scary is that he was writing in the FIFTIES. How much more now is fashion dominated by the vision of gay men?

Into this toxic industry, add addictive stimulants and appetite suppressants like cocaine to keep the little girls thin and boyish. Fly them around the world half-starved, and treat them peripatetically like cattle or heroes, depending on circumstances.

Is it any surprise then that the industry attracts vile sexual predators like Anand Jon Alexander? Access to young, confused, underfed, drugged girls and women, whose egos are veering like that of a bi-polar sufferer from zero to hero at all times - that's manna from Heaven for a career rapist like Anand Jon.

Where the feminists are right is in identifying the fashion industry as toxic to women.

It's toxic because of the vision imposed on women by gay men, and because of the use that evil hetero perverts like Anand Jon make of the fashion industry to sexually abuse young girls.

Women need to ditch their Vogues and their Marie-Claires. They're nothing more than hate literature aimed at their gender by a tiny cohort of female-hating men, and they facilitate the rape and abuse of vulnerable young girls.

It's time to boycott fashion.

Friday, August 28, 2009

How to end clamping

A Frenchman told me tonight how to prevent clamping from taking hold in your neighbourhood.

Buy superglue, and keep it on your person.

The next time you see clampers immobilising some poor bugger's car, just wander past the clamper van and squirt a whack of the superglue in the lock. Do as many doors as you can.

According to the Frenchman, in his town (he didn't specify and I didn't ask, sorry), when they introduced clamping, everyone armed themselves with superglue.

Within a matter of weeks, the clamping was cancelled, due to the cost of replacing locks on their own vehicles.

Obviously, this is not legal. And I'm not suggesting that the spineless citizens of Dublin should follow suit in defending their liberties against clampers as the French have.

But wouldn't it be fantastic if they did?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The REAL danger of music piracy

I read Seanachie's piece on home taping with interest and a degree of nostalgia.

What person, anywhere on Earth, who's currently aged between 25 and 50, DIDN'T make a mix tape, or record a live concert off the radio, after all?

And he's absolutely right - home taping didn't kill music at all.

He makes an interesting point (borrowed from AquariumDrinker) about the development of CDs. Basically, we can now acknowledge that the compact disc format brought us nowhere as consumers, but was a great payday for the record companies.

CDs couldn't record, were fragile, looked rubbish and cost more. What mugs we were for buying into that one.

I recall in the early Nineties visiting a factory in the West of Dublin where they made CDs. They had just installed a facility for making a whole new thing called DVDs. I was intrigued, and a bit impressed.

Until they showed me a DVD and it looked exactly like a CD, only double-sided. Now, I wasn't impressed.

"This is the same technology, right? You've basically taken two CD surfaces and put them back to back, haven't you?", I asked.

Effectively, with a little additional information compression and creation of further storage space, that's what they had done. The factory manager looked a little guilty and sheepish.

"We nearly didn't open this facility," he told me in confidence. "But a lot of money has been spent on this format worldwide. The music and entertainment industry are going to get behind it anyway. I reckon we'll get five years out of it."

"What happens then?" I asked in all innocence.

"The future is no media at all," he laughed. "Things will be stored virtually and you'll just download them onto your stereo or TV when you want them."

That was the first time I encountered the concept of digital media storage in the home. The industry knew it was coming a decade before it properly did, but they just had to squeeze one last tired media format out there in the hope that we'd all be mugs and buy all our albums all over again for the third time (or perhaps replace all our VHS and Beta tapes with shiny DVDs.)

Of course, with its business model predicated on soon-to-be-defunct product, that factory no longer exists today.

But it reminded me that we owe these industries no loyalty. The entertainments industry and their pals at Sony and the other format creators have systematically and cynically been ripping off the public for decades, selling them one set of Emperor's new clothes after another.

CDs were shit, so were CD-Rs, so were DVDs, so were DVD-Rs, so were... you get my point. It was all a delaying tactic (a lucrative one, too) aimed at preventing the dawn of the digital virtual storage era.

Now we're in that era, they've returned to a previous position - the mantra that piracy kills music (or film, or whatever) coupled with preposterous law suits against individuals worldwide.

Memo to those industries: suing your customers is not a smart business model.

As a result, there's been a predictable backlash, and now we're seeing 'Pirate Parties' sprouting politically in different nations. This is of concern, but not to the big entertainment industries. This is of massive concern to writers, painters, musicians - artists themselves.

On the one hand we have Google seeking to digitise and publish online every book they can lay their hands on. First they started with out of copyright books. Now they don't seem to care what they digitise. They've offered a crappy deal to authors who can take it or leave it. Google doesn't give a shit for creator's rights. They want to own literature, and that's what they're intent on doing.

In this regard, buzzing flies like the Pirate Party (basically a load of 'no to everything' anarchists) become extremely useful idiots for entities like Google. As the pirates agitate against copyright and intellectual property ownership, they seem to resemble a grassroots campaign that backs all Google's arguments.

See here, says Google. Look at these misguided European hippies. But say, perhaps they're right? Perhaps no one should be able to own intellectual property that they created? Why isn't every book in the planet free to all?

The real danger of music piracy is not that people make copies of things for their own enjoyment.

The real danger of music piracy is that it has led to the situation where we now find ourselves with music firms suing their own customers, and the public backlash against that is being used by multinational corporations to erode the concept of copyright so that they can steal the world's literature.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The sound of sirens

Hello sirens, my old friend,
I'm on the Northside once again.
Because when I was in Clonskeagh,
a gentle quiet came over me.
Now the Northside skangers are yelling in the night,
about some shite,
amid the sound
of sirens.

In restless dreams I walk alone,
through hordes of drunken Gaa-head clones,
neath the halo of a street lamp,
I turned my collar to the cold and damp,
when my kidney was stabbed by the knife
of some junky skite.
Oh what a fright,
amid the sound
of sirens.

And in the naked light I saw
Eighty thousand boggers, maybe more.
People drinking without speaking,
People puking and then pissing,
People throwing their shite in my front garden,
They all dared,
despite the sound
of sirens.

You fool, they said, don't you know
the Northside's full of crazy Joes.
Hear my words that I might teach you,
Take my arms that I might reach you.
But their words like silent raindrops fell,
and were lost,
amid the sound
of sirens.

And the people drink and bray,
and piss and puke outside all day.
Perhaps I should have heard the warnings,
Resident protests seem habit-forming.
And the signs say that they'll clamp you
right outside your own door,
by tenement halls,
amid the sound
of sirens.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Trapped in Dublin

Are they trying to trap us here?

First the security chimps at Dublin airport go on an unofficial work to rule, preventing nearly 100 passengers from getting to their flights before they departed.

Then the main train line to the North mysteriously falls into the sea.

And there is a strike on at Dublin Port that could start affecting passenger ferries at any time.

Already it costs money to leave Dublin via motorway, and of course, with the Greens in government, that will keep rising.

Are they trying to stop us from leaving so that we'll be forced to pay their preposterous new taxes in the Autumn?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The grumpy parent's Q+A

BBC's online magazine asked readers to answer ten of the most common difficult questions that children ask. They didn't publish my suggested answers for some strange reason, so I reproduce them here instead:

1) Why don't all the fish die when lightning hits the sea?

Why don't you go swimming during the next thunderstorm and ask them?

2) How much does the sky weigh?

Who fucking cares? Do your homework! That is one of your homework questions? Meh. I'm getting you moved into Ordinary Maths next term.

3) Why can't people leave other people alone?

Are we talking about kids in your school or strange smelly old men in grubby white vans?

4) Why are birds not electrocuted when they land on electricity wires?

They wear tiny wellies, obviously. Tiny invisible wellies.

5) What is time?

The thing you're never on.

6) Why is the Moon sometimes out in the day and sometimes at night?

Because it's not subject to my curfew. Now get your sorry ass back inside the house!

7) Why did God let my kitten die?

He hates you, of course. Actually, God didn't let your kitten die. There is no God. Must've been you who killed it. And no, you can't get a puppy to replace it.

8) Why do I like pink?

Because you're gay. Your mother's heart is broken, by the way.

9) Why is water wet?

It's not as wet as you, with your pink and your kittens and what not.

10) Why does my best friend have two dads?

He doesn't. He has a dad and a mum like anyone else. But his mum left when she found out his dad was a batty boy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Take your medicine

Anyone else see the egghead student whining in the Indo today about not getting into medicine?

Some privileged 17 year old from Tipp got a load of A1s in her leaving certificate but failed the aptitude test for medicine which they introduced this year.

Now she's in the national press moaning her hole off about how terribly unfair it all is, since last year her top grades would have secured her a place in any of Ireland's medical schools.

Talk about missing the point.

We've had years of only the very bookish students being permitted to study medicine and, do you know what? It didn't improve our health service in the slightest.

In fact, the doctors themselves have been complaining that the system was promoting eggheads into medicine rather than people who actually had a vocation to be doctors. The Irish Medical Organisation has been pleading for changes to the system for years.

So now we finally have a system that says you still need something massive like 520 points in the leaving cert, but also demands that you pass a test designed to see if you're suited to being a doctor. Good news for all.

Except for whining Marie Claire McGrath. She blew the aptitude test after aceing her leaving cert. In short, she's been found out in a standardised test not to be a suitable candidate for medicine. The test itself examines specifically "a candidate's logical reasoning, problem solving and social skills." We'll come back to that in a minute.

Marie Claire clearly feels entitled to study medicine. So entitled that she's moaning in the media. You can't blame her for feeling entitled. Unkie is a well-off doctor and she'd like to be too. She tactically dropped subjects and changed schools (to one in Cork!) in order to max her chances of passing these exams.

She's also the kind of person who gives up easily. Having blamed the HPAT test for her own failing of it, she now 'doesn't know what she wants to do', but is not considering repeating the aptitude test for medicine.

Now, I don't know about you, but I don't want doctors who give up and whine at the first moment of failure. I want doctors who stay the course and get people well - who are prepared to fight, in other words.

I also don't want doctors who are so nakedly ambitious and self-entitled. Marie Claire's idea of problem solving isn't to retake the test or rethink her suitability for medicine. It's to complain in the national media. The test, she feels, is at fault rather than her. That's a major breakdown in logic: the test failed her; she didn't fail the test.

I don't know what her social skills are like, but if they're like her logical reasoning and her problem solving, it's not a bit of wonder that she flunked the aptitude test for medicine.

The whole point of the new medical entry system was to weed out the unsocial, self-entitled, egghead medics and replace them with warm caring human beings with a drive to help people. That's what the aptitude test is for, and it looks like it worked perfectly on this occasion.

Perhaps Marie Claire, a 17 year old girl who apparently 'dreams of working as a GP' since she was a kid, should take her medicine and go and do something else with her life.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Radio Telefis England

RTE are a joke. Let us count the ways...

They hoover up the licence fee yet ram the airwaves full of ads too

They spunk the proceeds on preposterous wages for eejits like Gerry Ryan

They settled actions for millions with people like Beverly Cooper Flynn and Monica Leech when they could and should have insisted on getting every penny back for their coffers

They can't do comedy at all

They're riven with internal politics, with half the organisation seeming to be plotting against the other half at any given time

But for me the main reason RTE are a joke is because of their slavish forelock tugging to all things English all the time. The newsroom acts like independence never happened, banging on about the royals and British 'celebs' all the time.

But the greatest disgrace is their sports department. Not for nothing is RTE known among League of Ireland fans as Radio Telefis England.

In recent weeks, we've seen stunning performances from local clubs in the qualifying rounds of European football. Bohemians narrowly robbed of victory against Trappatoni's former club, Red Bull Salzburg.

Derry City's mighty giant-killing run. Or best of all, St Pats Athletic's stunning performances that has brought them to the very brink of the group stages of the Europa Cup, formerly known as the UEFA Cup.

Pats' performance in Russia was so remote that only 3 fans were able to travel to witness it. Thank God, then, for RTE, the national broadcaster, who picked up the live rights from the Russians and broadcast the game to the fans back home.

Did they fuck. They didn't even cover it on radio.

The national team played its first ever game in Limerick yesterday. The national football team in an international friendly against Australia. You'd think people who couldn't get down to Limerick might want to watch that on TV. Well, they did. And they had to watch it on Setanta, because once again RTE couldn't give a shite for broadcasting Irish football.

Wait another few days though. Wait till the showpony parade of the English Premiership begins again, with all the hype and all the money. Wait for RTE to start tugging its forelock and giving a foreign football league more coverage than it gets from the national broadcaster in that foreign country.

Throw in their Celtic fixation and blanket coverage of British clubs in European competition, and you'd think that you were watching a British broadcaster, such is their sports coverage.

They've even been covering English test cricket on their news bulletins recently! I've no problem with cricket being covered - Ireland is a new test nation after all. So why don't they cover OUR IRISH team instead of a foreign one?

RTE - Radio Telefis England. They're probably already orgasming at the thought of covering our 'home' Olympics in 2012. In London, of course.

Friday, August 07, 2009


Courtesy of Amhran Nua, I bring you the unofficial guide to NAMA (click for big):

Monday, August 03, 2009

Keep your daughter off the pole

Those were the wise words of Chris Rock to all fathers everywhere. The one duty of a father, he said, was to keep their daughter away from a career stripping.

It's probably redundant to add, keep her out of porn too. That's sort of implicit in what he said. Yet increasingly, the San Fernando Valley in California is inundated with girls who think that they might have found a back door to fame by whoring themselves on camera.

I was watching a documentary the other night about Ron Jeremy, the world's best known male porn star, and I found it tragicomic, poignant and ultimately depressing.

Here's a man who is engaging, warm, friendly and self-deprecating. A man from a good New York Jewish family, who works like a navvy even at 50 plus. A man who many other men believe has had the best life in the world.

Yet he's lonely, depressive, and ultimately frustrated in his lifetime ambition to make it in mainstream movies as an actor.

That got me thinking: if that's how life ended up for the industry's success story, how did others fare in porn? Then I found this blog, which tracks porn stars after their career. And the answer to my question was revealed. And it was frightening.

Sure, Stormy Daniels is running for Senate and Jenna Jameson is a millionairess. But what about all the others? Let's start with Chasey Lain, who was once so well known that she had a top 10 hit written about her.

Now a crackpipe ho. Pretty tragic. But she's still alive. Which is more than can be said for:

Billy London: murdered, his head and feet found in a dumpster
Marilyn Chambers: heart attack after taking prescription meds
Bryan Kocis: murdered by two other gay porn actors
Buck Adams: repeated heart attacks caused by drug and alcohol abuse led to his death at 52
David Wasserman: suicide
Missy: dead of a drug overdose at 41
Anastasia Blue: dead, apparently from drug use
Megan Lee: suicide by gunshot wound at 26
Melba Bruce: dead in her thirties in mysterious circumstances
Miyouki Asou: suicide at 22, believing porn had ruined her life
Paige Summers: drug overdose at 27
Star Stowe: murdered by a serial killer at 41
Elisa Bridges: drug overdose at 28
Dorothy Stratten: murdered
Lea de Mae: died of brain cancer at 27
Kathy Harcourt: found shot in the head, possibly self-inflicted
Vanessa Freeman: murdered at 30 by her boyfriend
Angela Devi: suicide by hanging at 30
Naughtia Childs: found dead at bottom of a stairwell, either suicide, murder or accidental death while tripping on LSD
Trinity Loren: overdosed at 34
Rene Bond: dead at 44 from liver cirrhosis
Rebecca Steele: died penniless in a motel room from a drug overdose at 42, while suffering from full-blown AIDS
Taylor Summers: murdered by photographer in possible snuff movie shoot
Terri Diver: dead at 29 from a drug overdose
Sheridan: wiped out in car crash at 20
Lolo Ferrari: died from 'mechanical suffocation' at 4o, husband spent time in prison for it.
Lisa de Leeuw: dead from AIDS at 34
Eva Lux: heroin overdose at 32
Britney Madison: died in car crash at 21
Chanel Price: overdosed at 35
Zoe Zane: murdered aged 18
Cal Jammer: shot himself aged 34
Haley Paige: dead of an overdose, boyfriend committed suicide before he could be questioned as to whether he had murdered her
Nancee Kellee: hanged herself
Alex Jordan: found hanging in her own closet, suicide or auto-erotic asphyxiation suspected
Savannah: shot herself aged 23
Julie Robbins: died in a car crash possibly caused by her being impaired at the wheel aged 26
Linda Wong: drug overdose at 36
Kristi Lynn: died in a car crash, suspected to be drunk at the time of driving
Shauna Grant: shot herself aged 20
Chloe Jones: died penniless of liver failure caused by alcohol and Vicodin abuse aged 29
Jon Dough: Suicide by deliberate overdose aged 43

And others are alive, but clearly damaged:

Kay Parker: believes she's been alive for 6,000 years.
Lori Michaels: faked her own death to avoid porn fan stalkers
Houston: former drug addict, cancer sufferer, now a Christian, sacked from her job because of her porn past
Alisandra: arrested for employing underage girls as strippers
Janine Lindemulder: jailed for tax evasion and lost custody of her kid
Tommy Saxx: jailed for credit card fraud
Fleur Brown: crack addict, jailed for trying to sell the virginity of a 13 year old
Hyapatia Lee: suffering from multiple personality disorder following the trauma of her porno experience
Jack Venice: jailed for raping a college girl
Max Hardcore: jailed for over three years for abusing women in his videos
Tony Eveready: jailed for possession of cocaine and guns
Danielle Rush: crippled in a car crash
Barbara Dare: broke and living with her parents in her late 40s
JR Carrington: a prostitute in a Nevada brothel
Marilyn Starr: convicted and jailed for insider trading
Melissa Walker: jailed for attempted murder

I probably didn't need to reproduce so many names. But I wanted to counter any charge that I was cherrypicking horror stories here.

Sure, some porno stars get out alive and relatively well. Though who knows what's going on inside their heads?

But this lengthy list of casualties has some common threads running through it: drug abuse, suicide, criminality, suspect car accidents, murder.

Given the small number of porn stars, and the incredibly young ages some of these people died at, it seems to me that one of the best ways to preserve your life to a respectable age would be to avoid porno as a career choice.

Let's go back to Chasey Lain before I finish. She was the subject of the Bloodhound Gang's 1990 hit 'Ballad of Chasey Lain' in 1990. But nearly two decades on, she's still apparently doing porn, when her crackpipe addiction permits her to perform.

She has a son. She's still not even 40. But like others on this list, she'll be dead or jailed soon enough, judging by the video above.

I'm no prude and I'm not judgemental. I'm not a big fan of porno generally. It's monotonous and sort of gross sometimes. But it's not a $10 billion industry for nothing. People like it and buy it and use it all the time.

Someone's making that $10 billion, but it's clearly not the performers. Not those who died through murder or suicide or overdose. Not those in jail, or ill, or mad. Not even relatively successful and affluent people like Ron Jeremy or Jenna Jameson.

And whoever's making the money clearly doesn't give a shit for the performers, who to them are as dispensible as the tissues they wipe down their sets with when their done filming.

I recently came across a campaign against cocaine which berated coke users for being 'selfish' because something like 3 square metres of rainforest is cleared to produce every gram or so of the drug.

What a species of people we are, who care more for trees than we do for people.

Porno can be bad for people who consume it, since it can become addictive and replace genuine affection and sexuality in people's lives.

But it is far more destructive to those who perform in it. When will we see an anti-porn campaign that is based, not on Christian disgust or feminist outrage, but on genuine concern for the people being damaged by the industry?

Do we really care more for Brazilian trees than we do for flesh and blood people?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Stop, please! No more irony!

I am suffering from an overdose of irony.

Evening Herald columnist and stay-at-home mom Suzanne Power has an especially pertinent title to her column this week.

It's been titled: "So look, stranger, don't bore me with your sad life and pathetic small talk."

I'm still not sure if this title refers to her article, which of course is the usual oul shite about men being crap, daytime TV and bodily functions - in other words, the same oul shite EVERY stay-at-home mommy columnist writes about.

In fact, I suspect it may be a comment from a wry editor or sub-editor forced to read this drivel as they put it on the page.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

United Kingdom of Big Brother

CCTV cameras everywhere.

Corrupt police permitted to stop and search anyone they choose without need of suspicion, and arrest them and hold them for months on end without charge.

Endless databases of information about members of the public held by the authorities in insecure environments, including laptops left on trains or in taxis.

Criminal sanctions for not submitting your data to the databases.

Firearms and watercannons used routinely to suppress legitimate protests.

Authorities retaining DNA evidence supplied by suspects subsequently found to be innocent, including from children, despite being told by Europe to stop it.

A leader without a mandate who was not elected by the people, running a government that has no support, implementing laws that the people oppose and ignoring the will of the people on issues they care about.

And now the latest crackdown on civil liberties, the latest suppression of dissent in Big Brother Britain - Cops can break into your home and tear down protest posters.

Britain is now little better than an open prison.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Poison Pens Six: Feminist columnist wants to ban men

No knee jerks with such predictable, goose-stepping precision as that of a feminist when men deign to comment on female health issues.

The not-so-hidden subtext of such reactions is generally that men should STFU about women's health issues entirely, the patriarchal scumbags.

In this context, one can of course understand that British hack Melanie Reid (medical qualification: X -X chromosomes) is infinitely more qualified than a certain Dr Denis Walsh (medical qualifications: associate professor in midwifery at Nottingham University) to comment on childbirth (scroll to bottom, past the other shite she's written this week.)

Dr Walsh has opined that women are having too many epidurals these days. Not so controversial, you might have thought, to suggest that too many dangerous spinal injections for pregnant women during labour should perhaps be discouraged.

But that would be to disregard the righteous wrath of people like Melanie Reid, who, like Caroline Simons in a very different context, is apparently supremely qualified for everything by virtue of her possession of a functioning womb.

Let's start by reminding ourselves that Melanie is, first of all, a HUGE fan of medicalising pregnancy and birth as much as possible. Not for her the hippy nonsense of homebirths or that sort of delinquent behaviour. No, no. Mel wants hospitals, and caesareans, and drugs. And she wants everyone else to want that too.

Bear in mind, she's expressed some extremely strange opinions in the past. Probably the most bizarre before today was when she went on BBC Radio to talk about how caring for the elderly is bad for them and people should just let their elderly senile parents die alone of hypothermia like she did.

So let's ignore her prescriptive preaching, since it actually serves to strip pregnant women of choice. Let's ignore also her nonsense about what nasty people medics are for encouraging women to breastfeed. Let's instead focus on her latest bout of uterus-focused lunacy - men can't talk about pregnancy or childbirth because men don't have wombs.

Dr Denis Walsh is a midwife. Not just any old midwife, though. He teaches other midwives. He teaches them so well that he is now a professor of midwifery. He's been in the childbirth game for decades, and has seen the rates of epidurals rising rapidly, and he's concerned.

He's concerned because epidurals are risky, and because they lead to women needing hormones to boost their contractions, which has god knows what effect on the children. As the good doc says, we've no idea what the long-term effects of this will be.

He also reckons that there are a load of other pain relief options for women in labour. And he'd know, because he's a professor of midwifery and this is his subject of expertise.

But that's not good enough for Mel. She's got a womb, so clearly she is way more qualified to discuss such matters than Dr Walsh. In fact, she reckons that he should be sacked from his job for the sole crime of being a man - him and every other male midwife.

Let's imagine for a moment that I said: "Look here, this Melanie Reid is a pretty piss-poor journalist. Here she is criticising experts who know way more than she does. She's clearly not qualified to be doing her job. In fact, it's unnatural for her to be doing it at all. For centuries we relied on men to be journalists. All women should be banned from journalism because it's unnatural."

I take it the flaws in that argument would be evident to all. So now let's look at what Melanie has to say about Dr Walsh. (You might want to settle down and get the popcorn out for this - such spectacular nonsense rarely gets a public outing):

"There’s simply no point trying to be reasonable about this. Dr Walsh either wants women to suffer or he thinks being controversial is a good career move. Either way, this is the midwifery equivalent of bombing women back to the Stone Age. Personally speaking, I’d rather take my chances with the Taleban [sic] than inhabit a system run by Dr Walsh and his kind.

And incidentally, don’t you think men should be banned from becoming midwives? If we’re talking tradition, after all, a male midwife is even more unnatural than a pain-free childbirth."

She has no intention of being reasonable.
She'd rather receive pregnancy and labour care from the Taliban than a professor of midwifery in one of the safest countries in the Western World to give birth.
She considers his sage advice that less epidurals be used as akin to being bombed into the stone age.
She wants men to be banned from a job that many do well, saving little lives each day, purely on the basis of their gender.

Shrill? Yup. Unscientific? Yup. Kneejerk? Yup. Preposterous? Yup.

I have a little suggestion of my own, if we're in the business of proposing that people be banned from stuff. Melanie Reid should be banned from writing about childbirth, or medicine, or health, or men ever again, since she clearly has only frothing-mouthed feminist cant to contribute.

In fact, perhaps we should consider a breeding ban for Mel too. After all, she clearly doesn't like the way women are given options and advice and care when giving birth in Britain, and she clearly hates the fact that men are allowed to perform some of these tasks. And do we really want someone with such bizarre opinions in control of kids, even her own?

If she falls pregnant accidentally, we could of course refer her to the Afghani health service and those Taliban midwives - you know the ones, all dressed in black with zero education, living in squalor and under genuine male oppression - that she rates so highly.

Melanie Reid, take a bow for being the stupidest cow in British newspapers this week.